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Focus | July 2012

Moving ahead at a rapid pace!

The segment will score in terms of medium and long distance material transportation since power plants in future will be of mega and ultra mega sizes, says Daya Kingston.

Bulk material handling systems or conveyors play an important role in the power industry. They are widely used in power plants to convey large quantities of material from one point to another, continuously over a period of time. The conveying systems include belt conveyors, pipe conveyors, apron conveyors, belt tripper conveyors, feeders, reversible shuttle conveyors, stockyard conveyors, long-distance conveyors, screw conveyors and so on. Material handling for power plants is
estimated to be a Rs 18 billion plus market. The overall material handling equipment industry is expected to grow at 10-15 per cent per annum.

Opportunities open up

Though bulk material handling systems for the power industry is a niche segment, it offers vast opportunities. Many power plants are coming up in the private sector and they will offer a lot of potential. For instance, these systems are a must in all thermal power plants. In 2011-12 there was an acute shortage of coal. However, new reforms will meet the requirement of power plants.

What makes this sector red hot is that the expected investment in this area is Rs 600,000 crore in the next 10 years to set up new power generation plants.

Latest technology trends

Like any other industry, energy efficiency is a major concern here too. The global climatic changes, increasing energy costs and restrictions have placed stress on environment-friendliness. This is making every manufacturer move towards designing greener systems. One of those initiatives is energy-efficient motors where the potential energy savings which amounts to 40 per cent and three-fourths of this can be attributed to electronic speed control. This is especially true in the case of dynamic applications that require frequent accelerations and variable-frequency drives. About any new technology that the company is using, Phani Kumar, Material Handling, Division Head, Elecon Engineering Company, mentioned, “High speed conveying systems upto speeds of 9m/sec, pipe conveyors, wine glass technology, regenerative downhill conveying systems, etc.”

About issues faced by the industry Phani Kumar said, “Due to the global slowdown and also due to a delay in approvals from various government bodies, projects are getting delayed.”

An eye on total lifecycle cost

One of the positive trends is that customers are now looking at the total lifecycle cost vis-à-vis the initial cost of equipment. This spells a paradigm shift in the way decisions are being made. Rather than merely going by the cost factor, preference is now given to quality equipment with low operating costs, low downtime and low wear costs. This naturally creates a low total lifecycle cost.

Landmark projects

Macmet India has been awarded an order by Gayatri Projects to design, engineer, manufacture, supply and supervise the erection and commissioning of a giant pipe conveyor system which is 4.85 km in length. This will carry 4,000 tonnes per hour (tph) of coal from Krishnapatnam port to a thermal power plant of Thermal Powertech Corporation India (TPCIL) at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Future outlook

Fuel linkage is one of the key factors which will decide the viability of any power station and this is where conveyors play a critical role. India’s future power plants will be of mega and ultra mega sizes and this translates into a proportional increase in the amount of coal to be transported and this entails that the most optimised transportation mode be chosen. Here the belt conveyor scores and is gaining importance in the medium and long distance bulk transportation of material.

Ashok Kumar Sinha of Indus Engineering Projects India said, “We offer conveyors for various sectors like cement, power, steel, pharma and so on. Steel is the most profitable segment. For the power sector, we offer coal handling systems and tube conveyors. One of our major projects in the power sector is the Durgapur power plant where we created a 350 metre long conveyor. The future for conveyors in the power industry is quite promising as the power industry is showing a rapid pace of growth.”

Queried about the future of this industry segment, Phani Kumar said, “Conveying systems are used for mechanised movement of bulk material in sectors like power, steel, ports, mining, cement, fertilisers, etc. Each of the sectors has huge investment plans in the coming years and is bound to grow to meet the requirements of the nation. So the future for this segment is positive.”
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